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Let’s Finally Do Something About Bad Meetings (Series Intro)

Updated: Mar 7, 2022

Meetings. They are the single most common complaint I hear from friends, colleagues, and clients.

We’ve complained about meetings long enough now that it seems we don’t attempt anymore to fix them. We hated the meeting we just attended, and we lament the meeting we’re having later today.

And it’s not just you and me who hates meetings. Researchers found that 71% of managers surveyed thought their meetings were unproductive and inefficient. This was in 2017.

Things have gotten worse. Here are just a few more recently compiled stats:

  • Most employees attend 62 meetings per month, where half of them are a complete waste of time.

  • Executives consider 67% of meetings a complete failure in communicating the purpose of the meeting.

  • Ineffective meetings cost up to $70 to $283 billion to the US economy.

Similar stats found employees lose an average of 3 days a year and executives lose nearly 6 days a year from meetings starting late.

Let that sink in. 3 to 6 days a year are lost just by late starts.

Then there is the impact to our well-being. How productive, engaged, and valued do you feel when you are routinely participating in bad meetings? Naturally, our focus is zapped, and our own productivity takes a big hit.

I can hear it already “I get it, Amy. It’s a problem. But what can I do about other people’s bad meetings?” A lot. Correcting this issue or, at least, improving upon it is pretty simple because the responsibility is shared. Successful meetings are dependent on both organizers and participants. Each play an important role and need to perform in productive ways to ensure the meeting is worth everyone's time. Here are a few reminders:

To get more context and details, read: Meetings: A Shared Responsibility

Because many agree that meetings are an essential part of getting work done (and it is my genuine wish for everyone to be rock solid at both organizing and participating in them), next week will kick off a three-part series that will give you the information and tools you need to not just conduct great meetings yourself but also influence others to do it too.

This series will cover what to do in the meeting to ensure it is a success, such as what to say and how to say it. This means we won’t cover how to write an agenda or who to invite. Rather, what do you do when you’re there, in the meeting.

Great meetings follow a basic structure. There is the beginning that sets the tone and direction. The middle is where discussion, learning, disagreement, and clarifications take place. The end is when the intended action for the meeting is captured and confirmed.

The series will follow this basic meeting structure:

  • Part 1 - Bold Beginnings – how to set the tone and foster participant engagement from the start.

  • Part 2 - Meaningful Middles – how to initiate discussion, manage unwieldy participants, and direct the group toward action.

  • Part 3 - Engaged Endings – how to ensure action items are identified and how to encourage others to volunteer to complete them.

It’s cliché to say, “Stop the meeting madness!” but I’m all for being cliché at this point. Stop it! There is valuable work to be done and lives to live. Don’t let meetings get in the way of any of that.

Next week, we’ll talk about Bold Beginnings. Those first 5-10 minutes of a meeting are when participants decide if it will be a valuable use of their time. You'll learn to make it so by being bold.

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Until next time!


Amy Drader is a management consultant and credentialed coach with over 20 years’ experience in HR and operations. She knows first-hand the joys and challenges of leading people and is dedicated to helping managers and teams advance their performance. She is the owner of Growth Partners Consulting, a boutique leadership and team development consulting firm that provides customized training and coaching.

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